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Spring opens its core to the seriously committed

Site invites add-on contributors

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Contributors to Spring devising and developing extensions to the open source framework will soon get dedicated help from project leaders through a new community site.

Spring leaders, though, will maintain a high commitment threshold for those contributing to the core Spring Framework itself.

A site is to be rolled out in the next two months for potential Spring contributors to post ideas, where they'll receive assistance in running projects through access to lists, forums, and Subversion-based version control, and also receive some mentoring and code reviews from Spring experts.

Spring creator Rod Johnson told Reg Dev the goal is to get more people involved in Spring, and formalize the process for taking project proposals.

Johnson warned, however, that extensions would not be accepted through this process for parts of Spring at the core of mission/critical systems.

To work on the core, Johnson made it clear he's looking for a high level of sustained commitment from individuals interested in Spring's long-term health and development.

Speaking during an Open Source Business Conference panel last week on running community projects, Johnson said: "If you want to come and contribute to the Spring core you can. But contributing to Spring is like having a dog: a dog isn't just for Christmas, it's for life... we will have high expectations. This [the core] will be a pretty serious commitment."

According to Johnson some people contribute to open source projects for status reasons or to improve their chances of getting a job. By participating, or being seen to participate, they can appear an active member of the community. Spring has apparently suffered such contributors before.

Others, meanwhile, become active to solve specific problems - which is great, but doesn't necessarily help the core. "The biggest single motivation we've seen for activity on projects is they have a problem they want solved," Johnson said.

In both cases, people drift away and - because contributions can go undocumented and bugs uncatalogued or fixed - the code base as a whole can degenerate. That's one thing when it comes to an add on, but becomes serious when it's the core framework given the breadth and depth of its use. The framework, for example, runs in products such as BEA Systems' WebLogic, while users who've come to rely on Spring include Siemens and FedEx.

"I have no issue with people who make a sustained commitment getting recognition," according to Johnson, who recently created SpringSource to deliver consulting, training and support services for Spring. "Recognition in open source comes from slow contributions over time. The true stars of open source are those who don't shout up from the roof tops." ®

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